In mid November, over 10,000 high school youth, priests, youth ministers, and chaperones descended on downtown Indianapolis, Indiana for the National Catholic Youth Conference 2021 (NCYC). Despite the limited number of attendees due to COVID-19 precautions, the Service Area of the “Village” was crawling with teens eager to spend some time putting their faith into action.
Members of the ArchIndy Creation Care Commission set up shop in the Village to teach participants how to “plarn” mats to give to people in Indianapolis experiencing homelessness.
Those who came through the booth were encouraged to explore how we can hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor through the lens of our Catholic faith. The plarning project demonstrated one concrete example of this through using recycled bags, creating something that is for those in need.
Plarning is the process of crocheting with balls of plastic bag yarn. Part of the booth was dedicated to the preparation of the plarn – separating bags collected in the past weeks by members of the commission, cutting the bags, and attaching them together to great balls of plarn. By far the biggest hit of the both was learning how to do the crocheting part. Some participants came with their whole group, others stopped by, and a few stayed to plarn for an hour or more at a time. By the end, 5 mats had made significant progress and one was completely finished. That’s an estimate of 4,000 plastic bags saved from landfills!
Also in the Creation Care booth, participants could take a selfie with Pope Francis and add their thoughts on caring for creation as a sticker, wander through the “Forest of Mercy” to see what actions they can take in their daily lives, sign up for the Laudato Si’ Action platform, pray with the Ignatian Eco Examen, or roll The Earth Cube.
After hearing about the Catholic Climate Covenant and the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, one youth who was the president of her school’s ecology club, remarked – “This is great! I didn’t know the Catholic Church had programs for taking care of the earth. I’m so excited to take this information back to my school.”
Youth ministers as well were interested in the information about hosting a plarn mat service project with their groups back at home.
The Commission extends a BIG THANK YOU to all the local volunteers who helped out, Mundell and Associates for providing Earth Cube t-shirts, the Catholic Climate Covenant who provided swag and printed materials about the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, the folks at PourHouse, and Kathy Tindall for her expertise on plarning.
Interested bringing “Plarning” to your youth group or school?
Members of the Creation Care Commission are available to travel to locations around Indiana (or neighboring states within a 2-3 hour drive of Indianapolis) to lead plarning events or teaching workshops. Please contact us for more information.
Additionally, the “How to Host a Plarn Mat Service Project” document contains helpful instructions, links, and video demonstrations, plus information on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and the Catholic Church’s teaching on caring for creation.
Kudos to all the 300 youth and adults who stopped by the Creation Care booth during the 3 days of NCYC. Your dedication to caring for your neighbor and the earth inspires us all!